The Third Insa-dong Street Soripan (인사동 거리소리판3)

This is the third part in a series that documents the 2016 Sunday-afternoon street performances in Insa-dong by Park Tae-o and other Ttorang Gwangdae (see part1 and part2)

from afar

This time, the Street Soripan almost did not take place. The owner of a souvenir store right next to the place where Park Tae-o and his friends had performed the last two times (and where they were setting up the mat and the drum now) was complaining that the pansori performance was too loud and would make it difficult for her to talk to customers. In fact, it is always pretty loud around the main street of Insa-dong, especially on a sunny Sunday. Chatting people and music blasting from various stores make it difficult to concentrate on the sori, too.

Today, the line-up had been extended. After Park Tae-o (박태오), the initiator of this year’s street pansori performances, had opened with a short introductory song (or “danga” 단가), a young singer continued with an episode from Heungbo-ga (흥보가).

Kim Jeongeun (김정은), wearing casual jeans and sneakers, began midway into the story of the two very different brothers, good Heungbo and bad Nolbo. Soon she was singing on the top of her voice to the growing crowd. After about twenty minutes, Park Tae-o continued the story, which culminated in a scene where Heungbo cut open the giant pumpkin that he had received for his good deeds (박타는 대목).

김형옥 - 심청가 B
The next singer was Kim Hyungog (김형옥), who took of with a very emotional performance of the danga “Song of Four Seasons” (사철가), and then continued with the finale of Simcheong-ga (심청가), until the end where Simcheong’s blind father opens his eyes to see his daughter – whom he believed dead – again (심봉사 눈뜨는 대목). Kim’s performance was highly moving and people gathered closely around him.

During the first half of the event, the strong sunshine had kind of separated the audience, as spectators would stand in the shadow, both on the left and the right of the ad-hoc stage. Now the sun had lowered a bit and people began to form a closer half circle around the singers.

As the final number, No Eun-ju (노은주, who had performed pansori last time, too) and Im Sang-rae (임상래) sang a medley of folk songs, leading to the familiar “Jindo Arirang” (진도 아리랑), with many spectators singing along. After some group pictures, the crowd dissolved into the bustling street of Insa-dong.


On this third Street Soripan, even more spectators seemed to have momentarily gathered to listen to the songs. Again, many were taking pictures and I even spotted an old-school camcorder! In the second half, people drew closer and took less pictures.

Although Park Tae-o at one point “practised” chuimsae (추임새), calls of encouragement for the singer, people were (again), relatively passive in this regard. Park and the others also invited the audience to engage in other forms of interaction, such as applause, and clapping and singing along – suggestions which the audience abundantly took on!

The Insa-dong Street Soripan continues on May 8, this time a bit later, at 5pm, same place!

– 24 Apr. 2016 (日)

  • 인사동 거리소리판, 출연: 박태오 (소리), 김형옥 (소리), 손종환 (북), 노은주 (소리), 임상래 (소리), 김정은 (소리), 인사동길, 2016년 4월 24일 (일), 오후 3–4시.
  • Insa-dong Street Soripan, with Park Tae-o (sori), Hyungog Kim (sori) Son Jong-hwan (buk) No Eun-ju (sori) Im Sang-rae (sori), Kim Jeongeun (sori), Insadong-gil, 2016–04–24 (Sun.), 3–4 pm.

About Jan Creutzenberg

Jan Creutzenberg, friend of theatre, music, and cinema, comments on his performative experiences in Seoul and elsewhere.
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